T-41 Mescalero
Cessna T-41D of the 557th Flying Training Squadron
Role Primary pilot trainer
National origin United States
Manufacturer Cessna
Introduction 1964
Status In service
Primary users United States Air Force
United States Army
Indonesian Air Force
Turkish Air Force
Produced 1964–1996
Developed from Cessna 172
Cessna 175 Skylark

The Cessna T-41 Mescalero is a military version of the popular Cessna 172, operated by the United States Air Force and Army, as well as the armed forces of various other countries as a pilot-training aircraft.[1][2]

Design and development

In 1964, the US Air Force (USAF) decided to use the commercial off-the-shelf Cessna 172F as a lead-in aircraft for student pilots rather than starting them out in the T-37 jet aircraft. The USAF ordered 237 T-41As from Cessna.[a] The first USAF class (67-A) of students began training on the T-41 from the civilian airport in Big Spring, Texas, in August 1965.[1][2]

The T-41B was the US Army version, with a 210 hp (160 kW) Continental IO-360 engine and constant-speed propeller in place of the 145 hp (108 kW) Continental O-300 and 7654 fixed-pitch propeller used in the 172 and the T-41A.[4][5][6]

In 1968, the USAF acquired 52 of the more powerful T-41Cs, which used 210 hp (160 kW) Continental IO-360 and a fixed-pitch climb propeller, for use at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.[1][2]

In 1996, the aircraft were further upgraded to the T-41D, which included an upgrade in avionics[1] and to a constant-speed propeller.

Beginning in 1993, the USAF replaced many of the T-41 fleet with the Slingsby T-3A Firefly for the flight-screening role, and for aerobatic training, which was outside the design capabilities of the T-41. The T-3A fleet was indefinitely grounded in 1997 and scrapped in 2006 following a series of fatal accidents at the US Air Force Academy.[2][7]

The USAF now trains all its prospective pilots and combat systems officers through a civilian contract with DOSS Aviation known as initial military flight screening, which makes use of the Diamond DA20. This program is conducted for USAF line officer accession programs (e.g., USAFA, AFROTC, and OTS), with said training taking place after these officers have been commissioned as second lieutenants. It is also conducted for USAF officers at the first lieutenant and captain level selected for flight training after an assignment as a non-aeronautically rated officer.[8]

Four T-41s remain at the Air Force Academy for the USAFA Flying Team, as well as to support certain academic classes.[9]

A number of air forces, including Saudi Arabia and Singapore, purchased various civilian models of the Cessna 172 for use in military training, transport, and liaison roles. While similar to the T-41, these aircraft were not T-41s and were powered by the standard 172 powerplants available in the model year purchased. These included the 145 hp (108 kW) Continental O-300 in pre-1968 aircraft and the 150 and 160 hp (120 kW) Lycoming O-320 in later 172s.[4]


Argentine Army Cessna T-41D Mescalero

With the exception of the T-41A, most variants of the T-41 were certified under the Cessna 175 Skylark type certification.[10]

United States Air Force version of the Cessna 172F, 172G, and 172H for undergraduate pilot training, powered by 145 hp Continental O-300.[4] 230 built; 170 (172F), 26 (172G), and 34 (172H).[11][a]
United States Army version powered by a fuel-injected 210 hp (157 kW) Continental IO-360-D or -DE driving a constant-speed propeller and featuring a 28V electrical system, jettisonable doors, an openable right front window, a 6.00x6 nose wheel tire, and military avionics. The baggage door was removed. 255 built (all Model R172E).[5][6][10][11]
USAF Academy version with a 14V electrical system, fixed-pitch propeller, civilian avionics, and only the two front seats. 52 total built; 45 as the R172E and 7 as the R172F.[5][10][11]
Military Aid Program version with 28V electrical system, four seats, corrosion-proofing, reinforced flaps and ailerons, a baggage door, and provisions for wing-mounted pylons. 299 total built; 34 as the R172E, 74 as the R172F, 28 as the R172G, and 163 as the R172H (with extended tail fillet).[5][10][11] First T-41D delivered to the Philippine Air Force in 1968[12]


Cessna T-41B of the Republic of Korea
 Dominican Republic
 El Salvador
 Khmer Republic
Laos Kingdom of Laos
 Republic of Korea
 South Vietnam
 United States

Aircraft on display

United States

Specifications (T-41C)

Data from Global Security[1]

General characteristics


See also

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era



  1. ^ a b The T-41A designation was originally assigned in 1962 to a proposed United States Navy navigation trainer variant of the Grumman Gulfstream I, but the purchase was deferred and the designation was reassigned; the Grumman was subsequently ordered in 1966 and entered service as the TC-4C Acedeme.[3]


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